Sunday, December 6, 2009

Huston Smith: Judaism

In Judaism, what is the meaning in history

-History is important for Jews, because history is scripted and planned by God, so every event in history holds some extent of significance. They happen for a reason. Jews have active stance toward their lives and their contexts: history, according to free will that God gave. the goal of Judaism is to better the world by acting on changing what is to what should be. They also value collectiveness because an individual can't make a change on history but a group. Even a prophet needs a group to effect a change in a society.

In Judaism what is the meaning in morality

-Since human beings are social creatures, the need for morality becomes necessary in which the focus of morality in the religion is narrowed on force, wealth, sex, and speech. there is no need of morality for animals because they do not have free will that conflicts morality. the rules for these morality are well written in the Ten Commandments that promotes collective life with others rather than solitary life.

In Judaism what is the meaning in Justice

-Advocates of justice in Judaism are prophets who are extraordinarily attentional at the social order. They are meant to speak on the authority of another. To be a prophet, one has to go through three stages. the progress seems like one has decent spirituality and others follow this one for its decency and as it gets a bigger crowd of followers, it becomes a religion. a prophet at first or second stage is a joke. the custom(?) of a prophet is revolutionary, because someone without official position took the side of a wronged man and denounced a king to his face on grounds of injustice as well as the prophet was speaking of an authority not his own.

In Judaism, what is the meaning of suffering?

-Suffering in general carries a negative connotation, however in Judaism, suffering is significant in a way that God gives Jews suffering in order to test or punish so that they can learn from it. suffering might give some Jews doubt about God and his will, however faithful ones get a lesson and reward from God in return. Because those lessons and rewards are acquired with difficulty, Jews value and take them in consideration every time whenever practicing privilege.

In Judaism, what is the meaning in Messianism?

-Messianism is a belief that the conditions of life can improve by a messiah. Jewish history is full of oppression and persecution in which Jews were a minority: underdogs. that's why messianism is very important or appealing in Judaism; oppressed people hope for improvement. There are two sides to it: the politico-national side and spiritual-universal side. a messiah would come, save Jews from persecution and restore their position in the world (politico-national side). Aftermath, the messiah would better morality of the world. Therefore, there are three ideas of messianism: hope, national restoration, and global betterment of morality.

In Judaism, what is meant by the "hallowing of life"?

-Judaism puts emphasis on practice and ritual for hollowing like eastern religions whereas western religions do on abstract reason and theology. those rituals which is seemingly wasteful and nonsensical, ease people through tense situations and times of anxiety, or intensify experience and joy in times of happiness by connecting people who practice the same rituals. the mental aspect of hollowing in Judaism is piety that consists in seeing the entire world as belonging to God and reflecting god's glory. Hollowing doesn't mean abstinence in Judaism, but Jewish law recommends that enjoying what's given by God is good without conflicting with other laws. Through tradition and history, Jews could maintain their identity and find holiness in historical events where God was involved.

In Judaism, what is the role of revelation?

-Jews say that they didn't reach these ingenious doctrines on their own but were revealed to them. God revealed himself and ideas in Torah by actions rather than words, described first in the Exodus where God liberated an unorganized, enslaved people from Egypt, launching Israelites as a nation. there is another evidence of revelation: a tiny, loosely related group of people, who had no real collective identity and were in servitude to the great powers survived for thousands years, which seems impossible without divine intervention. from the beginning, God has been leading, protecting and shaping his people from the Exodus to their survival in modern world. the Exodus reveals that God is powerful and merciful, and that God wants Jews to be good as he is and most importantly that suffering must carry significance because it was unthinkable that a God who had miraculously saved his people would ever abandon them completely. God once revealed himself and made a covenant saying God would continue to bless the Israelites if they would honor the laws they had been given.

As I read this section, I got deeply confused about the concept of revelation. I thought it only meant divine ideas revealed by God, but it also means revealing himself in order to lead Jews and what the Bible reveals about God. I personally don't think that the book should be written in this way, but I am not Huston Smith. I guess the role of revelation is where Jewish belief starts as well as a way to learn God and morality.

What is the concept of the "chosen people" in Judaism

-The idea that a universal God decided that the divine nature should be uniquely and incomparably disclosed to a single people is difficult to grasp because God shouldn't be unfair toward everyone. however "being chosen" in Judaism is different. God make chosen people suffer as a sacrifice for the fellow human beings, rather than give them privileges. Deducing from the idea, the reason that Jews were chosen might be that they were only people who are willing to endure vicarious suffering when God was presented to peoples. Therefore they are not chosen for favoritism, however in return, God leads them. Also Jews don't see themselves as a innately special people, giving God a credit for what Jews have done.

No comments:

Post a Comment